Sen. Bob Packwood’s decision to confront publicly the women accusing him of sexual harassment is unfortunate and unfair, Sen. Patty Murray said Wednesday.
The Senate rejected public hearings on the allegations against the Oregon senator earlier this month. Murray, who was on the losing side in that vote, said that decision denied Packwood’s accusers an open forum on their charges.
“Now he’s taking his side public,” she said. “I think it’s very unfortunate he has chosen to take this route.”
Democrat Murray - in Spokane to attend a briefing on downtown redevelopment and the opening of the new Spokane Transit Authority bus station - emphasized she wasn’t making a judgment on the allegations against Republican Packwood.
She wouldn’t comment directly on Packwood’s contention that women who are now complaining about harassment did not object to his behavior at the time. But she said that’s not unusual in sexual harassment cases.
“In general terms, it is not surprising that victims do not say anything when harassment occurs,” Murray said.
On other topics, Murray said Spokane will learn later this year whether it will lose its Small Business Administration office and its Bureau of Mines office.
The SBA previously announced it would restrict most states to one office, and Washington’s would be in Seattle. But the agency has since relaxed that one per state rule, and members of the state’s delegation are pressing to keep the Spokane office open, she said.
The Bureau of Mines has not made its decision on the Spokane office, she said.
Keeping either office open in the current budget-cutting climate will be difficult, Murray added.
“The entire mantra of Washington, D.C., is you’re successful if you cut something,” she said.
Murray accused Republicans of trying to scare seniors with predictions of financial disaster for Medicare. Congress needs to adjust the program to correct potential problems in the future, she said, but that’s not unusual.
“Since Medicare came into being, we have made adjustments from time to time,” she said. “To simply scare people by saying it’s going broke is unfair, just as to say nothing’s wrong is unfair.”